Aug 052010

August 5 Philadelphia Daily News

” Over the past four seasons, the Phillies have added valuable help during the month of August through trades for veterans like Tadahito Iguchi, Matt Stairs and Scott Eyre.

This year, they are hoping for a similar contribution from first baseman Mike Sweeney.

Shortly after the Phillies acquired the five-time All-Star from Seattle for cash considerations and a player to be named later, manager Charlie Manuel said he viewed his newest arrival as his No. 1 option to fill in for injured slugger Ryan Howard, who is expected to miss between 2 and 3 weeks with a sprained ankle.

Whether Sweeney, 37, plays every day or shares time with lefty Ross Gload, the Phils believe they have added cost-efficient depth that will benefit them even after Howard returns from his sprained ankle.

“He’ll start,” Manuel said. “Gload might play some first base. I haven’t seen [Sweeney] in a couple of years, but he knows how to hit. He’s got some power, too.”

At the very least, the Phillies have acquired an affable veteran with a long track record of offensive success. Sweeney, who last played regularly at first base in 2005 with the Royals, was one of the more consistent hitters in the American League during the first half of this decade. From 1999 through 2005, he hit .313 with a .383 on-base percentage, .905 OPS and 163 home runs while starring for the Royals. Since then, he has played primarily as a designated hitter, posting a .750 OPS and 15 home runs in 541 plate appearances in his last two seasons in Kansas City. He spent 2008 in Oakland (.728 OPS, two home runs, 136 plate appearances) and 2009-10 in Seattle (.784 OPS, 14 home runs, 376 plate appearances).

A back injury has limited Sweeney to 30 games this season (.802 OPS, six home runs, 110 plate appearances), but the Phillies believe he is healthy enough to play immediately. The 15-year veteran, who hit .366 with two home runs in 12 rehab games at Triple A Tacoma, was activated from the disabled list before the trade.

When Howard went on the disabled list Tuesday, the Phillies called up outfielder John Mayberry Jr. from Triple A Lehigh Valley, in part because he played first base at Stanford and spent a little bit of time there while in the Rangers’ organization.

Mayberry arrived in Florida yesterday saying he was ready to fill in at first if called upon.”

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